There are some people in this world who are simply gems. The people who look beyond themselves and their goals for the benefit of someone else. The hope they can inspire in a broken heart, a depressed soul or a hurting, tired body. They are the sunshine on the days of rain for those who feel no hope and that the world has given up on them.

I remember the first week I hopped on Twitter after leaving corporate during the fall of 2009. I remember losing hope of a future I had planned and worked so hard for. As I started to feel sorry for myself and prayed for answers to my next chapter and path of life, I met Mark Horvath. He was the first Tweeter who grabbed my attention, and my heart. Spend 30 seconds on his Twitter page, personal blog or project website, and he will quickly shine light on the blessings you have in your life,  job or no job.

It took  less than one minute for Mark's work to steal my heart. Although I wasn't homeless my husband and I were laid off at the same time. Although we 30+ years of combined experience, there was still that “what if” factor. The “what if we don't find a job”. The “what if we don't have a place to live in 6 months”. I always had a heart for the homeless but crossing tweetstream with Mark at that specific chapter in life ignited that calling further.

It was at that time I knew I couldn't and didn't want to go back to corporate. I saw thru Mark's videos of filming the homeless and posting their  videos on his websites the hope he was offering. I saw the change and the opportunities for change. I felt in my heart the true power of social media. The power of a single person with a big heart combined with a keyboard, a crazy micro-blog program called Twitter and a handheld phone camera.

Approximately 15 years ago Mark also found himself out of a job. He wound up on the streets.    He was just like the millions of homeless today.  He never planned for a life of homelessness.  He never said, “I am going to move to LA to follow my dreams, and know one day I will be homeless.”  No, it was simply life that caused him to wind up on the streets.  It is one decision impacted by another combined with a failing economy, corporate shuffles and the list goes on. It was a pastor and God's grace that got him off the streets.

There are millions on the street today that never thought they would be there.  There are families sleeping in their cars while our kids sleep nestled in their beds.  Wonder how much the parents in tents, cars or park benches would trade to be sitting on Twitter right now. Probably a lot.

Did You Know?

-50% of homeless are women and children

-39% are kids under age 18

-9 = average age of homeless person

-millions of foreclosures are still on the horizon

*stats from Mark's YouTube video

Mark's project is today featured on the front page of YouTube.  His video is titled “YouTube Fights Homelessness With“.  Thanks to the YouTube community sharing videos and spreading the word of homelessness, YouTube is now also stepping up to help.    What an amazing testimony to the power of social media.  The power of one soul, one body combined with a Twitter account and a phone.  The impact that can be made by those that care.

His efforts have brought real change, not just a promise of change, but real change to real people.

To date Mark has videotaped thousands of homeless people. He often gets them to talk by offering socks or other necessities. He has been sponsored by Hanes and even won an award from Pepsi last year providing $50k to help his efforts.

Mark offers the gift of hope.  He helps put a voice and video with an often overlooked face.  A face that many walk by and ignore, thinking they can't help so they might as well ignore. He makes them “less invisible.”

Mark helps bring awareness of the homeless issues to the communities he visits.  His visits to domestic and international cities have helped ignite local infrastructure change.  He has amplified the need to stop ignoring the issue of homelessness.  He has amplified the needs that exist in every city to help the broken hearts, the crying souls and the hungry bellies.  His efforts have helped feed, cloth and provide warm beds for those who don't have them.

Social media provides the ability for people to connect in ways we never dreamed possible.  The reach, the depth and the method provide capabilities that generations past would have thought were impossible.  Yet today,  I believe we are still at the forefront of understanding the power of this social revolution.  The opportunities that await for change makers who have the guts to not go with the flow, to be the different bird, to not build their life dependent upon the corporate walls of 401k, paychecks etc.  Instead they put their confidence in the hope they offer others.

It is wonderful to see change makers such as Mark achieve brand awareness on channels such as YouTube and other platforms.  Just as Mark would certainly say it's not about him but what the voice given via the placement on the front of a YouTube page can do for others!

What are you doing with your social media voice?

Make your tweets matter! Use your voice for social good! Use your voice to make a difference in someone's life today.

Hear Mark's story below and on YouTube. Forward his videos to your family, friends and co-workers.  Be a voice, a change maker, today!

If you have an interest in helping fight homeless, do it! Look him up and join his efforts.  Visit his YouTube channel. Visit one of his web platforms.  Be the change that happens in your city.  One heart, one Twitter account can make a difference. Just ask Mark! He's only a tweet away @hardlynormal

hardlynormal blog YouTube channel

Meet Robert who sleeps in a sleeping bag

Roberts's 3 wishes: 1)a place to stay 2)not be homeless 3)friends

Jean lives in a weekly rate hotel with her 5 kids.  She works at McDonalds and rides her bike to work each day.  She feels “stuck” with no way to get out.

3 wishes: 1) a home  2) a place for her kids to run around  3)a steady, good job

Meet Cecilia and daughter Juliana living day by day

For 3 yrs Cecilia has been living in a homeless shelter with her 9 yr old son and 3 yr old daughter.

Her 3 wishes a.) a home for her kids  2) to be healthy 3) to be happy